Archive | April, 2014

10 Questions to Ask Before Accepting a Job Offer

29 Apr

By Jessica Robinson

A lot of job-ready, eager millennials are graduating college, interviewing for jobs and looking to start their career.

Source: someecards.com

Source: someecards.com

Millennials are also more likely to change jobs than their older coworker – at a rate of about 3 years so even the working young professional is likely to be on the job hunt today, perhaps satisfying a quarter-life-crisis.

To add to the pressure, millions are still unemployed and new grads are challenged more than any previous generation with finding employment after graduation. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, College graduates’ of 2013 have an unemployment rate that is the highest in over 20 years. CNN called them the ‘Boomerang’ kids because 85% of college grads moved home in 2012. All of this sounds really difficult but it doesn’t mean that negotiating desired benefits are off the table or that a job seeker regardless of generation should accept a job that is unsuitable to their career goals.

It’s important to look out for yourself in the workplace because nobody else will do it for you. How do you interview a potential employer while they’re interviewing you? There are some obvious things like salary and benefits but there is more to a satisfying job than that.

First, try to outline your ideal working environment and company culture and how important they are. Are things like casual Fridays important? Is flexible working schedule a must? Is teamwork where you excel? Add that on your list of questions. Here are some other ideas to ask. Leave your suggestions in the comments below!

  1. What is the day-to-day working environment like on the team? Look for things like what types of people you’ll be working with. Ask what the level of individuality is like. Try to understand types of projects or responsibilities that are most common.
  2. What is the room for growth and the time frame associated to that?
  3. If I asked the team to describe their job and the team culture, how would they describe it?
  4. What qualities and characteristics do you consider strengths of your team?
  5. What are the biggest challenges you feel that the team (or company) is facing right now?
  6. What type of person do you work best with, and what type of person doesn’t do as well?
  7. If a team member isn’t performing as expected, how do you react?
  8. On the flip side, how is good work rewarded?
  9. What is the best part of your day to day work?
  10. Ask to speak with others in the company. You need to find out what type of management style your boss or indirect influencers have. Find out who directly impacts and evaluates most of your work (it’s not always the direct report) and find out if their management style is what you would consider desirable. Talking with others will help indicate that more honestly than anyone else.

Do you have tips for job seekers based on your experience or from someone you know? Let us know in the comments!

9 Reasons You Know It’s Spring in Midland

28 Apr

 By Mark Kawiecki

With spring in the air, MYPros have finally been coming out from winter hibernation. Here are the top 9 reasons that you know its spring time in Midland!

9. You’ve seen your neighbors for the first time in 5 months.

8. Mobs of people are blocking streets downtown to walk to Great Lakes Loons baseball games.

7. A standard conversation involves discussing how high the Tittabawassee River is flooding.

6. The Farmer’s Market opens!

5. Hundreds of people start planting flowers along major roadways.

4. You can kayak around Chippewassee Park and see the statue family ‘walking on water.’

3. You’ve got your heat on in the morning and A/C on in the afternoon.

2. Great Lakes Ice Cream Company opens and the waiting line stretches down the street.

1.  The Rail Trail becomes a thing again.

Once the weather breaks, the Rail Trail is a great spot for biking or running. Photo by C Hanchey from https://www.flickr.com/photos/21953562@N07/. Some rights reserved.

Once the weather breaks, the Rail Trail is a great spot for biking or running. Photo by C Hanchey from https://www.flickr.com/photos/21953562@N07/. Some rights reserved.

On behalf of the Communications Subcommittee, we hope all MYPros have been able to get out and enjoy the beautiful weather!

Are there any things you think we missed? If so, comment below!

 

That Race Car Got Some Air! [Guest Post, Quarter Life Crisis]

17 Apr

By Steve Puvalowski
CEO, Tri-City Motor Speedway

I have learned to expect the unexpected during a race night at Tri-City Motor Speedway. On August 3, 2012, I thought the burned out scoreboard light was going to be the biggest issue to fix that night. When I was repairing the scoreboard, however, I heard over my headset that a Sprint car flipped and went through the fence and landed in the parking lot. At first I didn’t realize what was said and figured the safety crew could take care of it. Then it hit me. If the Sprint car went through the fence and landed in the parking lot, the car must have launched about nine feet in the air and landed outside of the track where fans park. (Before you freak out, this is not the reinforced 15′ fence that protects the grandstands.)

8 3 2012 SOD flipping over the fence

I hopped in my vehicle to find the driver of the Sprint car standing outside of his car, thankfully unharmed, and his car sitting within one foot from a spectator’s pickup truck. The situation now became fixing the 30-foot hole in the fence and resuming races as soon as possible so that racers and fans could still enjoy a night at the track. Amazingly, the safety crew and I fixed the fence and got the races started again with only a 40-minute delay. The Sprint car driver even got a back up car and he continued racing for remainder of the night!

Safety Crew with Sprint car that flipped over fence  landed in spectator parking

Unexpected situations can easily be stressful, frustrating and just plain difficult to deal with. However, there are some helpful steps for working through these situations and finding a solution. Here are some pointers I’ve learned:

  1. Remain calm. Take a few deep breaths and don’t freak out, no matter how bad you think it is. This will help you think more clearly when working through the issue.

Losing my cool wouldn’t have helped anything. I prepared for the worst as I drove to see the accident, but remained collected so that I could think clearly about what needed to be done.

  1. Assess the situation. Try and find out the facts of what exactly the situation/problem is. Making sure you identify the root problem will help you resolve the issue faster.

My first priority was to make sure the Sprint driver and spectators were completely safe. After that was addressed I was able to focus on the second issue, getting the fence fixed so that races could resume.

  1. Create a plan of attack. Think through the steps you will need to resolve the situation. What’s the biggest priority? Then what is next? Spending a few minutes getting manageable steps in order will save you time in the long run.

What are the steps needed to fix the fence? By sorting out the steps I could give clear directions on what had to be done i.e. taking care of the race delay and current racers, getting the right tools and materials for the fence and organizing the safety crew to make the fixes.

  1. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Sometimes you simply can’t get everything done by yourself. This is when you need to find someone who can help you with the problem or assist you in working through your action steps. Sometimes another person (or people) can make all the difference in helping with an unexpected situation.

I never would have fixed the fence by myself. I relied on my crew to help me get the problem fixed and they did a great job.

Here are some other notable unexpected situations I’ve faced:

– Finding an abandoned coal mine-shaft next to the track while doing renovations.

– The night the generator broke and the whole track went black.

– When another Sprint car flipped several times and the driver needed to be cut out of his car and was airlifted to the hospital.

Oh, the stories I can tell and I have only had three years of operating Tri-City Motor Speedway under my belt. I guess you’ll have to catch me at a MYPro’s event to get the rest of the details!

Puvalowski, SteveSteve Puvalowski is the CEO and promoter of Tri-City Motor Speedway. He purchased the abandoned track in 2010 and work roughly 16 hour days for eighteen months straight renovating the track and property to get it ready for racing again in 2011. Steve grew up around racing his entire life and raced a Prostock car and an auto cross truck before he became the owner of Tri-City Motor Speedway.
Email: steve@tricityracetrack.com
Phone: (989) 316-6804

 

Moving Day…What to do and not to do [Quarter Life Crisis]

14 Apr

By Heather Litle
Midland Center for the Arts

I just finished the process of buying and selling my first home. Now, I know you must be thinking, “How is that possible? How could I sell my first home, when I am only just now buying my first home?” Well, I guess technically, we are selling my husband’s first home and buying ‘our’ first home. Having never done this before, I immediately started asking myself a million questions, where do we start? How do we find a realtor? Do we buy first and then sell? Where will we live if we sell our house before we find a new one? All of these questions, and many more, raced through my mind and as a first time buyer I really had to rely on my friends and family for advice. I’d like to share with you some of the advice I received that I found helpful (and some that I found not-so-helpful).

Tip #1: Go with what you know…or who you know
There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to finding a realtor. Ask friends and family who they’ve used, who they liked or didn’t like, and the results and communication they received from that person/company. Communication is key. Red flags should start waving if someone mentions, “Oh, I didn’t hear from them for 2 months when I was selling my house” or “they were nice but it was hard to get in touch with them. I was always leaving messages and it’d be days before I got a call back.”

Tip #2: Go the extra mile…you won’t regret it
At the advice of our realtor, my husband and I paid the extra money to get both an appraisal and inspection of our house prior to putting it on the market. This helped us in 2 very beneficial ways. First, everyone has an emotional attachment to their home, especially one in which you brought your first child home to, and therefore you may think it is worth more than it really is. Needless to say, we weren’t overjoyed with the results of the appraisal but because we got that unbiased feedback (yes! your realtor is biased…and should be) we put our house on the market at a more realistic price and it sold within 8 days! Second, an inspection is a contingency on EVERY (see Tip #3) sales agreement and can create quite a bit of stress when trying to sell your home. We fixed all the minor things that turned up on our inspection and when it came time for the buyers to inspect our house, it turned up nothing – and man is that a load off your mind!

Tip #3: Always, always, always add a contingency for a satisfactory inspection to your purchase agreement
When buying a home, it is vital that you include a satisfactory inspection to your purchase agreement. Things go wrong with houses all the time, like a leaky kitchen sink 6 days after you move into a new house – yes this is happening to me right now – but you can seriously lessen the number of things by having a professional come in and look over everything prior to you committing 30 years of your life to a mortgage.

Tip #4: Don’t move when you are pregnant…NOT!
Ok, so this one sounds like a good piece of advice but I found it to be incorrect. My husband and I knew prior to having our first child that we would need a bigger house but we were told that we shouldn’t move while I was pregnant. And therefore, we waited – big mistake. Moving with an 11 month old is NOT fun! She is mobile and into everything! By now, she is aware of her surroundings and a big, empty house that she is not used to was not conducive for a good nights’ sleep for some time. She has adjusted nicely and now loves her new home and playroom but it was definitely an experience that I would have done differently had I known what we were getting into. For many this is unavoidable but for those of us whose timeframes are more flexible it’s something to keep in mind.

Tip #5: Do your research and stick to your guns
This might seem like an obvious piece of advice for many of you. Often; school districts, safety of the area, and distance to/from work, school, hospitals, etc. are factors when purchasing a home but sometimes these things are overlooked when presented with an updated kitchen, walk-in closets or amenities, such as that hot tub you’ve always wanted. Things you need to keep in mind when you start to sway are; why did you put certain things on your need/want list in the first place? What will the resale market look like? And no matter how strongly your family/friends/realtor try to sell you on a place, if it doesn’t feel right…it probably isn’t right.

shutterstock_50097085

The Countdown to Opening Day of Loons Baseball

2 Apr

By Bruce Gunther
Director of Communications, Great Lake Loons

For many, the true start of spring isn’t the day signified on the calendar – March 20 this year – but the Opening Day of baseball season.

With several months of baseball ahead, the realities of a long winter fade. And in our region, where we’ve been inundated with snow, cold, and more cold, nothing looks better than winter in the rearview.

For Great Lakes Loons fans throughout the Greater Bay region, Tuesday, April 8 marks the start of another baseball season at Dow Diamond, and the first sign of spring. It’s our Opening Day and, as always, we plan to get the party started with fun, baseball, and more fun. Enough winter already!

But before getting into too much detail, let’s first consider a few numbers (since baseball is always a game filled with numbers):
IMG_157114 – As in, 14 inches, the amount of snow Loons groundskeeper Nick Wolcott said was on the Dow Diamond playing field less than two months ago. Wolcott and his crew began removing some of that on Feb. 25. On March 7, the tarp was pulled over the infield and sand sprinkled over the outfield to kick-start the melting process.
5 – As in, the number of days later when the tarp was pulled back to reveal … gorgeous green grass!
Dow Diamond Midland, MI Shawn MacDonald_98 – As in, this will the Loons 8th Opening Day game. The first was on April 13, 2007, when beautiful Dow Diamond was opened for business.
9 – As in, the number of players from that first-ever Loons ’07 team who’ve gone on to play in the Major Leagues, including Clayton Kershaw, the highest-paid pitcher ever (and cameo actor on ‘New Girl’). Not bad at all.
9 – Also, as in our new Hump Day Happy Hour promotion, which will take place on nine Wednesdays throughout the season. This promotion will feature drink specials for fans 21 & over from the time gates open to one hour into the scheduled game time.

These facts all have led to this year’s Opening Day Celebration – presented by Consumers Energy – which features the Loons taking on Midwest League rival Cedar Rapids. Game time is 6:05 p.m., but the celebration certainly doesn’t begin with the first pitch.

  • The Celebration begins with a parade at 4:30 p.m. The parade launches at the corner of Gordon and Main streets in downtown Midland, and will be headlined by the Amazing Christopher – a highly-sought after fun-and-dance performer who has performed for presidents, princes and the Queen of England, among others. He’ll also perform during the game.
  • The Amazing Christopher is just part of the parade entertainment; among others in the lineup are the Saginaw High School and St. Charles High School bands, a stilt walker, the Central Michigan University pom squad, Northwood University dance, Northwood’s steel drum corps, members of the Saginaw Sting football team, and the Saginaw Spirit’s mascot, Sammy Spirit.
  • Of course, no Loon celebration would be complete without this region’s “Amabassador of Fun,” the one and only Lou E. Loon. Lou E’s back in town and fired up for another season. And he’ll be joined by Rall E. Camel. Be prepared to be entertained.
  • We’ll wrap up the day with a post-game Fireworks Loontacular, powered by Dow Corning. It will be the first of 13 Loontaculars at Dow Diamond during the 2014 season.

And let’s not forget the baseball part of the equation. The Loons will usher in a new season with a new manager (Bill Haselman, and another group of talented young players who hope to one day become starts like Kershaw. So far, 27 former Loons have made it to the big leagues, a number which will continue to grow.

Now let’s wrap things up with one final number:

1.9 million – The number of fans, give or take a few, who have flocked to Dow Diamond since the first-ever Opening Day in 2007. We can’t wait to add to that number in 2014.

Bruce-Gunther Bruce Gunther is the Loons Director of Communications. He will help manage the Loons internal and external communications, including overseeing all aspects of media communication, including social media. During the season, Bruce supports the local media with their game-day needs and doubles as the team’s beat writer for Loons.com. He also serves the Michigan Baseball Foundation, Dow Diamond, and ESPN 100.9-FM and ESPN1009.com.

A Saginaw native, Bruce is the former sports editor of The Flint Journal and The Bay City Times. He has a B.A. in Journalism from Central Michigan University.